Law & Order: Season 4, Episode 2

Volunteers (29 Sep. 1993)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 87 users  
Reviews: 2 user

A drug addicted and violent homeless man, who had been terrorizing a neighborhood and whom the residents and police had been unable to do anything about, is severely beaten.



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Airs Sat. Aug. 08, 9:00 PM on WE

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Title: Volunteers (29 Sep 1993)

Volunteers (29 Sep 1993) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Reid Mullen
Kent Broadhurst ...
Dr. Creighton
Leon Prosky
Marion Killinger ...
Roland Kirk
Harold Morrissey
Prosky's Lawyer
George Siddell


Detectives Briscoe and Logan investigate the severe beating of a homeless man, Roland Kirk. The man is something of a neighborhood terror and he is often off of his medication and also smokes cracks. He was found in an alleyway but had $2200 in his coat pocket and the detectives later learned that he has a $15000 trust account managed by Richard Gilrich, an advocate for the homeless. The block association lost a court case which is where the money came from as they were clearly violating his rights. As a result, he continues to terrorize the neighborhood having once pushed a child in front of a moving car. On the night he was beaten, he had attacked a woman, Irene Morrissey, and her husband apparently decided to teach him a lesson. It all seems straightforward but Getting a conviction proves to be another matter. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Release Date:

29 September 1993 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


A.D.A. Claire Kincaid: Not according to our eyewitnesses.
Prosky's Lawyer: Yeah, a lunatic and Mrs. Magoo.
See more »


References Marathon Man (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

Ten Thousand Miles From Home And I Don't Even Know My Name.
3 September 2011 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

I consider this a rather routine episode of an outstanding and ordinarily thoughtful television series, which is saying a lot -- that looming adjectival "thoughtful." The writers try to deal in a sensible and dramatic way with a current social problem, homelessness, but it's like a wrestling match and they lose. The problem is that the homeless man depicted is a crack-addicted, extremely aggressive lunatic. He's in and out of drug treatment programs. They dry him out and he's back on the streets. And there appears to be no place for him in the mental health system either. He's one of life's losers that has fallen through the cracks.

Okay. It happens often enough. But the overwhelming majority of homeless people aren't crack addicts or violent. They're mentally ill or alcoholic, statistically. Illnesses like schizophrenia, while excruciating for the patient, don't lead to the kind of behavior this guy exhibits. He shouts and screams at passersby. He yanks shopping bags out of their hands. He pushes little kids in front of cars. He frightens customers away from shops.

Finally one of the people living next to the alley in which the guy sleeps takes a tire iron, breaks the homeless guy's legs, and half brains him. There follows the second part of the program, with a lot of legal filigree.

The core issue, though, is homelessness and in this instance the writers have set up a straw man. I understand the need for drama. There's nothing very exciting about a loser who lies wrapped up filthy blankets all day and hardly moves. But the drama is ginned up.

That's not to criticize the entire episode. Homelessness is just one of the issues it deals with, though perhaps the most important. The acting and direction are fine, as they always are in these early years. Jill Hennessy is glamorous and gracile. With that cygnette C-spine, if she were a ballerina she could not only dance the part of Odette/Odile, she would look the part too. Michael Moriarty is always outstanding in some unremarkable way. And S. Epatha Merkeson is so efficient and tender-minded, one wants to snuggle up to her matronly bosom for reassurance.

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